Death toll from flu outbreak has now hit 10
TEN lives have now been lost this season because of the worsening flu outbreak, with two young children among the deaths.
The latest figures include two lives lost since the latest influenza report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre last week.
The laboratory figures reveal that one of the deaths was a child under four, while another was a child in the five-to-14 age bracket.
A further death arose in a person aged 15 to 64, while seven people aged over 65 died.
A HSE spokesman said he was not in a position last night to clarify if a second child death was one of the most recent flu deaths.
The Influenza A (H3) virus is the predominant virus circulating and has resulted in four deaths. A further four were from Influenza A(H1)pdm09 strain, while one death resulted from Influenza A.
Swabs were not taken in the case of one death, but it appeared the person was displaying 'influenza-like' symptoms.
Beaumont Hospital in Dublin imposed visitor restrictions over the weekend as it fought a flu outbreak.
Flu has also been identified at Kerry General Hospital – however, the HSE has stressed that there is no swine flu present at the facility.
Strict visitor restrictions remain at Kerry General Hospital and a visitor ban has been introduced at Tralee Community Nursing Unit.
The HSE says it is possible that wards could be shut off to visitors in Kerry General if the situation escalates.
Doctors are seeing around 42 cases for every 100,000 people – double the normal figures. The highest rates are being seen in those aged five to 14 and the 15-to-64 age brackets.
There have been 118 people hospitalised with influenza this season.
Six acute respiratory outbreaks were reported to the HPSC last week, with all of them in residential care facilities, long-stay units or community hospitals.
The HSE has urged those in high-risk groups to seek vaccination against the virus, saying it is "not too late". The health agency estimates that over the last eight flu seasons, between 200 and 500 people have died in Ireland each year from flu-related illness.
A particularly severe flu season could see the deaths of up to 1,000 people. Flu symptoms can include a fever, runny nose and sore throat, a dry cough and general pains.